Search ads and digital advertising continues to grow
Companies fork out billions upon billions of advertising dollars each year to make sure business stays on the upward climb. And to do that, there’s been a shift to digital advertising. That is a shift that’s only natural, considering that people spend more and more time on their computers and smartphones and less and less time in front of a printed newspaper or listening to the radio.
According to an eMarketer article from 2012, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL were expected to take in just under $24 billion in advertising revenue that year. By 2014, Google’s growth was expected to see marketers spending more than $20 billion with $3 billion more going to other digital efforts. It’s also been reported that in 2012, Google made more in the first six months of the year (almost $21 billion) than all U.S. print media industry combined (just more than $19 billion).
Leading the pack in what companies are paying Google for are search ads. Those are the ads that look a whole lot like regular links that pop up after a Google search. They are highlighted in a very light pink color, so to the Internet unsavvy, it’s hard to distinguish those ads from news and organization links that aren’t paid for. The way it works is, companies pay to have their links come in in searches for words. For instance, if you search for the keyterm “pools,” pool companies that pay Google will come up above all other listings. Seems like a great way to market a product, right? It’s a sure fire way to always make sure your name comes up on top. The downside is, those search ads can be used to deceive the public too.
In 2010, BP paid to have its website rank higher on search results to bolster the company’s image. They bought into search terms such as “oil spill,” “volunteer,” and “claims.” BP wouldn’t say how much they paid for the service, but they spent more than $50 million on television ads to make themselves look better. Google doesn’t permit news sites and blogs to promote with search ads, so if a person was looking for unbiased reporting on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, they would first have to make it beyond the BP controlled ads that linked to the company’s “Gulf of Mexico Response” page filled with videos and articles explaining how BP was resolving the issue. The use of the search ads was highly publicized and consumers admitted they felt tricked by BP. BP could have probably better used those millions of dollars to pay claims and perform actual clean-up to get back in the good graces of the country instead.
But hold on, Google, you may be raking in the money now, but someone is looking to take your place. Bing just keeps plugging away at an effort to make the company as popular as Google. Recently, Microsoft has paid for Bing to appear in the movie Source Code and the television show The Vampire Diaries. The company even ran an ad during the popular AMC show The Walking Dead after efforts to have Bing inserted in the show failed. The biggest call out Bing received for product placement, however, was with its use in The Amazing Spiderman when Peter Parker uses Bing as a search engine. Nerds united saying that a nerd like Peter Parker would never use Bing. However, the company’s efforts might be paying off. Bing has garnered about 30 percent of the search market when taking into consideration that Yahoo! is Bing powered.
In addition to search ads, companies can place digital advertisements on news websites, social media sites, blogs and other online locations and applications. But where those ads are placed and what they look like bakes a big difference as to whether or not the message is seen by consumers. The Poynter Institute’s Eye Tracking Study is a good read for marketers looking to get the most bang for their buck online. Pointer found out that Net surfers spend a lot of time looking at the top left of pages and in the upper section as a whole before moving down and to the right. That’s because normal initial eye movement focuses around the upper left part of the screen. The Poynter study indicated that ads work better in the left hand column instead of the right hand column because the right side of the page is an “after thought.” Also, text ads were viewed the most closely of all the ones Poynter looked at. They are less distracting and camouflage well with other page content. Bigger ads have a better chance of being seen and the bigger an image, the more time people take to survey it.
Digressing a little bit from digital advertising (because this is my blog and I can if I want to) to the importance of viewing repetition and it’s importance to branding, when I was looking at Bing’s efforts with product placement, I began to think about companies who use it well. My husband and I were just at a movie last night and there’s no doubt that Coca-Cola has the market on movie product placement. The company believes that repetition and and brand association goes a long way in the minds of consumers, and judging by how much they spend at the movies, they must be right. Over the last 80 years, Coke products have been in iconic films such as It’s a Wonderful Life, King Kong, The Exorcist, E.T., Jaws, Batman, Independence Day, The Gods Must Be Crazy and many others. AnyClip used tagging technology to try and pinpoint how much time Coke products received on camera over the years. (There’s a pretty nifty infographic at the link.) AnyClip found that there was a relationship between a film’s budget and the amount of time Coke products appeared on screen in a movie. Of all the time spent on screen Coke products appeared 32 percent in cans, 20 percent on signs, 18 percent in bottles, 12 percent in glasses, 7 percent in cups and 11 percent “other.” Coke’s brand influence in movies is 9.7, Apple is at 9.1 and Toyota comes in at 7.5.
Video marketing has to be clever, to the point
Billboards, television, radio – Oh, my!
Advertisements are everywhere we look. From writing on vehicles, to marketing in elevators and bathrooms, there aren’t many places consumers can go to escape being bombarded by ads. We’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads in the 1970s to about 5,000 ads on an average day.
I, like many other people I am sure, have what I call advertising ADD. I don’t usually focus on one thing long enough to actually receive an advertisers message. It seems the goal of advertising execs these days is to fill every space available with some sort of ad. Now, especially in larger cities, we see messages on parking stripes, on stairs, below ground in metros and subways, on taxi toppers, on cars, plastered on buildings, being pulled by airplanes and on mobile billboards.
But, do any of those techniques really work? With so much smacking us broadside each day, do we really pay attention to the ads that have become as common as nondescript buildings we pass by each day?
A couple of years ago, television advertisements became shorter to appeal to our shrinking attention span. Once-popular minute-long ads had already decreased to 30-second and in 2010, 15-second ads took over as the most popular for advertisers. Shorter, 15-second TV commercials increased in use by more than 70 percent over a five year period.
With the invention of items such as Tivo and online ad blockers, consumers can fast forward through and ignore pesky advertisements. Sites such as Hulu create less of a presence for advertisers. Laptops and phones have also contributed to shortened attention spans. Consumers truly do control what they see, when they see it.
According to Kantar Media, about 5 percent of a viewing audience for a 15 second commercial will stop watching. That number increases to 6 percent for 30-second spots and 6.5 percent for minute-long advertisements. And advertisers are taking note, creating new 15-second ads as opposed to editing down already produced 30-second ad. Procter & Gamble doubled the company’s number of 15-second ads to more than 299,000 in 2010 and Walmart increased its 15-second ads to 148,000 in 2010 as compared to about 5,700 in 2005.
That was two years ago. What about now? Since online advertising is an increasingly important branding tool, let’s take a look at those stats.
More than 20 percent of people will change their minds about watching an Internet video if it doesn’t load within five seconds. Seventy-five percent of people change their minds after a 10-second delay. Research by Visible Measures shows that it takes 20 percent of viewers 10 seconds or less to abandon a video that doesn’t hold their attention. By 30 seconds in, a 33 percent of viewers have moved on. Forty-four percent say “goodbye” at 60 seconds and just about 60 percent abandon the video at two minutes.
What do those numbers mean for advertisers? If an online video reached 10 million people, two million saw less than 10 seconds of the probably-expensively produced advertisement. But those numbers also hold true for shorter online videos.
That means, when it comes to video branding, it’s important for advertisers to get to the point quickly.
Tying social media into video branding, Twitter’s new Vine product forces video makers to creatively get a message across in six seconds. Just as Twitter helped us learn to get our point across in 140 characters or less, Vine uses the same methodology with video.
Even if you aren’t ready to jump on the Vine bandwagon when it comes to sinking money into a different type of video advertising (which you really should consider doing, by the way), there is still much to be learned from the art of condensing an idea in to a six-second spot. Here are some ideas for formulating the perfect video pitch:
- Be brief. Think of one idea that you want viewers to know about your brand. Limiting the pitch to one thought will help the viewer retain the message.
- Make it quirky. Think of interesting ways to showcase a product in hopes of helping it go viral. The more shares, the more people see your message.
- Communicate your difference. What makes your company stand out? Are you organic? Do you donate to a cause? Are you safe for kids?
- Make it interactive. Is there a way you can turn your video idea into a contest, or encourage people to share the content for a discount? Or, create a video that asks viewers to create their own and share it on your networking site. Creating an avenue for company, consumer interaction is always a good thing!
- Remember, social media messages don’t always have to push your brand. Use clever historical trivia (like Google does with their daily Doodles). Participate with a holiday-related short. Create a video that others will share. That promotes your brand as fun and relevant.
- Educate viewers about something new and cool. Maybe there’s a unique way to use your product. Show folks how! Be amazing.
Need some more ideas on clever videos. This site shows some great examples that use the tips above, and there are even more thoughts on how to catch the attention of viewers.
As for Vine, The Gap, NBC, The Humane Society, BuzzFeed, GE, Tropicana and sports companies and teams have already jumped in and are spreading their vine messages everywhere. And it’s easy to track the effectiveness of Vine videos. An app called Simply Measured offers a free analytics tracker to keep tabs on how popular your videos are. The tracking is free for Twitter accounts that have 10,000 or fewer followers.
Keep in mind that 87 percent of marketers in the United States use video for branding purposes and mobile video is expected to make up 66 percent of global mobile data traffic within in the next five years. That’s up 51 percent from 2012. So whether you are using YouTube, Brightcove, Vine or another form of video branding, it’s important to find new and creative ways to keep your audience coming back for more.
Companies should reach customers where they are – on the phone
The first form of advertising dates back to 2000 B.C. when Egyptians carved public notices into steel.
We create new print and online advertisements every day at the newspaper where I work. Advertising representatives visit with the creative editor to share their thoughts for an ad and convey what clients had in mind. Then the creative editor designs a first version to be taken back to the client. Hopefully, the client loves the design and all is well. If not, the ad rep comes back, visits with the creative editor again, and the process begins another cycle.
Even with the time involved in the back-and-forth to create the perfect print ad, I can’t imagine what the Egyptians went through!
Mashable posted an interesting timeline by infolinks that shows the evolution of advertising. Fast forward from the Egyptians to 1472 when the first print ad was created in England that advertised a prayer book for sale. Even further down the timeline, 1835 marked the appearance of automobiles and the idea of billboards.
After that time, the evolution of advertising began to move even more rapidly with innovative trends happening years and decades apart instead of centuries.
In 1973, Jules Verne used the first product placement when he named shipping companies in Around the World in 80 Days. In 1882, Times Square received its first electric sign. Sears began direct marketing in 1892 when the company sent out postcards and received 2,000 back with orders. In 1905, celebrity endorsements began, followed by “sex sells” advertisements, political propaganda, false advertising, television advertising and infomercials.
Jump ahead, once again to the magical 1994. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan became household names. Major League baseball players went on strike. O.J. Simpson drove his white Bronco as the nation watched. AND, Internet advertising was born.
AT&T, Sprint and other companies began using banner ads. Pay-per-click advertising also appeared the same year, followed the next year by key word ads and then finally, mobile ads in 1997. The infolinks timeline ends in 2011 at a time when online advertising became the second budget priority for advertisers, worldwide.
Advertising clearly evolves to fit the lifestyle of consumers. We began driving, advertisers figured out how to get their messages across even on the open road. Cell phones became convenient. We can be reached at almost anytime by friends, family – and advertisers.
ComScore data shows that 50 percent of mobile users have smartphones. Showing, even further, the importance of the shift to digital and mobile advertising, 37 percent of website views happen on mobile devices instead of desktops.
Advertising Age interviewed the chief executive of Safeway, the tenth largest retailer in the country, who said the company thinks so much about digital advertising that they hope to be paperless in the future. In 2010, the company spent about $33 million in newspaper advertising. Safeway cut that amount to $20 million in 2012 in order to focus more on digital advertising. The company reported that sales are up, customer loyalty has increased and solidified and online coupon use has also increased.
Looking at how users are accessing information, both on desktops and mobile devices, it is not a surprise that advertisers are seeing success with digital ads. A report by ComScore out just two months ago shows that mobile only users are increasing over desktop site users or combination users. Pandora, ESPN and Twitter are the most accessed sites by people who are using those services exclusively on mobile devices. Also on the list are The Weather Channel, Gannett companies, NBC Universal, Walmart and Amazon.com
ComScore also notes that more than 50 million consumers have tablets and more than 125 million Americans now have smartphones. With that knowledge, it would be fatal for advertisers to ignore the digital market.
Cnet reports that Facebook is proof in the pudding. The social network is forecasted to garner more than $1 billion just from mobile ad revenue this year. That’s according to market research firm eMarketer. The research firm reports that Facebook has become the second greatest ad publisher in the United States. But even greater than Facebook is Google. Google is expected to attract more than 50 percent of all mobile ad revenue this year. Pandora is in third place and Twitter came in in fourth.
eMarketer also shared that U.S. mobile ads increased by about 178 percent last year and should rise by more than 77 percent this year. The projection by eMarketer is that about $27 billion could be spent on mobile advertisements by 2017.
But still, even with the obvious pros to mobile and digital advertising, not all businesses are willing to take that plunge. I’ve seen that on a personal level. Many of the businesses in the city where I work are owned by traditional or older business men and women. The idea of online advertising, to them, is still a futuristic and untested idea. On the flip side, younger business owners believe that they can create their own digital advertising through social media announcements that will have the same impact as online advertising with another company. So far, the way we’ve been able to expose clients to digital advertising perks is to include online advertising as part of an ad package. Exposure increases, page clicks are tracked, but there is still little interest in advertising outside of the print product. Perhaps that’s because advertisers on a local level still aren’t sure what measurements mean when it comes to clicks and views. They hear from customers that they saw an ad in the paper, but customers rarely mention they saw an ad on a website.
National companies have embraced digital advertising with success, but it looks as if it will take time for smaller companies to trust the brave new world of advertising possibilities. But, mobile marketing makes sense. Customization is easy, it costs less to produce digital ads, and they are easier to track. Mobile marketing is also instant. Friends and family can reach consumers quickly via smartphones – and so can advertisers. There’s no lag between the time an advertisement is uploaded to the time a mobile user could come in contact with the ad. Potential customers and clients usually have their smartphones with them most of the day. Also ,since mobile users are skilled at sharing, they’ll likely share good deals and company info they come in contact with.
What’s next? Corporate “Bat signals?” Shadow ads on the moon? What will be the next evolution of advertising?